EP350: Employers Direct Contracting With Hospitals, in Real Life, With Katy Talento
Relentless Health Value™January 13, 2022
350
35:3148.76 MB

EP350: Employers Direct Contracting With Hospitals, in Real Life, With Katy Talento

In this healthcare podcast, I’m talking about direct contracting IRL (in real life) with Katy Talento. This is a conversation that’s more about the reality of direct contracting than the theory of direct contracting, and this was not an accident. So much of healthcare transformation is really easy to say and much harder to actually do.

So … direct contracting. In the context we discuss in this episode, generally direct contracting means when an employer or their benefits consultant, more likely, hooks up with a provider organization, lots of times a hospital or a health system. Moving forward here, I’m just gonna say employer when I sort of really mean the employer and their TPA and their repricer, the constellation of consultants and other vendors that are working with the employer.

So, just for simplicity, the employer says to the provider organization, “Hey, let’s cut out the middleman here” (middleman likely being some insurance carrier). “I will just pay you directly, and it will be a win-win because no one is sucking out up to 15% to 20% right out of the middle, and also I’ll steer my employees/patients/members your direction, which is great for us as a self-insured plan because money saved and also because I’ve done some quality analytics and I think you’re relatively good at delivering care … so I’m happy to help my members find you.”

The employer will, in general broad strokes, pay the provider organization some percentage over the Medicare rate for procedures or codes or bundles. By the way, the dollar amount over Medicare for the bundles or procedures or codes can vary depending on factors like what service line it is because, unlike RBP (reference-based pricing), direct contracting is a negotiation. It’s a two-way deal. RBP, a lot of times, is the payer/employer deciding what they’re gonna pay and then paying it—without sitting around a table with the provider figuring all this out together. So, if only from this one dimension, direct contracting is something that you’d think that hospitals/health systems/providers would be kind of into and up for.

One thing that I didn’t really understand before this conversation is that, if we’re talking about an employer direct contracting with, say, a hospital, the list of direct-contracted procedures or codes or bundles might include pretty much all of the services that the hospital can perform; but, in general, the employer is only going to steer members there or make it financially attractive to go to the hospital for, for example, emergency or unavoidable procedures. Why? Because no employer wants patients going to the hospital for things that they could get a whole lot cheaper in an outpatient setting with no less quality.

So, unless a hospital is willing to compete on price with other care settings, then an employer is not going to steer their members there. If you’re a hospital, you might take this as a con. But, on the other hand, consider that if there’s a few hospitals in the area, the general direction will be to go to the one with the direct contract. Furthermore, if a plan is gonna steer members, they’re gonna steer them whether they have a direct contract with you or not.

Katy makes one point early and often throughout this conversation. From a hospital perspective, doing a direct contract is and should be pretty easy. From an employer perspective, too, there should not be a lot of disruption or friction for employees. There doesn’t need to be. Done right, it should be a win-win for the employer, provider, and, most of all, the patient who doesn’t get stuck with high bills, balance bills, and lower-quality care than might be available to them through their benefits.

Katy goes through the steps to create a direct contract and the challenges she has faced along the way. We also get into the wonderful world of payviders, so you could consider this an extension to the episode with Jeb Dunkelberger (EP348) from last month.

My guest today, Katy Talento, started out as an infectious disease epidemiologist (which I did not realize). She ended up doing public health policy. She’s worked on Capitol Hill for various senators and, in the last administration, as health policy lead. Katy is the CEO of AllBetter Health and works with the Health Rosetta organization. She is a benefits advisor for employers who are looking to create better health plans that reduce costs dramatically while, at the same time, improving benefits. I mean, you can only do that in healthcare, right?—where there’s basically no relationship between price and quality.

You can learn more at allbetter.health or contact Katy directly at katy@allbetter.health.

Katy Talento is an infectious disease epidemiologist, a veteran health policy advisor, and healthcare consultant. She is CEO of AllBetter Health, an insurgent benefits advisory firm building innovative health plans for employers that are free of misaligned financial incentives. Katy served as the health policy lead in the White House on the Domestic Policy Council where her portfolio included public health issues such as eliminating domestic HIV/AIDS, ending secret healthcare prices, lowering prescription drug prices, expanding health IT interoperability, combating the opioids and other drug addiction crisis, and promoting bioethics in the life sciences. Katy has appeared on or been published in a number of media outlets, including CNN, Sky News, Newsmax, The New York Times, The Hill, The Morning Consult, RealClearPolitics, and others.

Prior to her White House appointment, Katy served five U.S. Senators over a 15-year period, including as top health advisor and manager of legislative staff and oversight investigators. She also worked in the private sector helping multinational energy companies protect their global workforce from infectious diseases and on the research faculty at Georgetown University Medical School.

Katy served as the director of speechwriting for the Republican National Committee and has written a number of published opinion pieces, Web copy, and video scripts. She spent two years as a Catholic nun and has worked with the poorest of the poor from East Africa to industrial Russia and inner-city America. Katy received a master of science degree in infectious disease epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health and an undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of Virginia.


05:21 Why are employers direct contracting?
06:37 “When you directly contract … you don’t have to chase patients.”
07:43 Why the growing 501(r) movement is making direct contracting more enticing.
10:16 “They’re going to be giving better rates, whether they want to or not.”
11:46 “I think it’s the future hospitals want, too.”
12:58 What is the primary driver of increased healthcare costs?
14:56 “The fixed costs that the hospitals … have may not be so fixed.”
15:08 “A hospital should not be a freestanding profit center. … The hospital is a failure of healthcare. It alone should not be profitable.”
15:35 “We have the system we have, but why do we have to live with it? We don’t have to.”
17:15 What’s step 1 of direct contracting?
24:12 What’s the TPA’s role in direct contracting?
25:21 What’s the repricer’s role in direct contracting?
33:28 “I think the thing that makes all this work is having a benefits advisor that knows how to do all this.”

You can learn more at allbetter.health or contact Katy directly at katy@allbetter.health.


@KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

Why are employers direct contracting? @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“When you directly contract … you don’t have to chase patients.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

Why the growing 501(r) movement is making direct contracting more enticing. @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“They’re going to be giving better rates, whether they want to or not.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“I think it’s the future hospitals want, too.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

What is the primary driver of increased healthcare costs? @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“The fixed costs that the hospitals … have may not be so fixed.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“A hospital should not be a freestanding profit center. … The hospital is a failure of healthcare. It alone should not be profitable.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“We have the system we have, but why do we have to live with it? We don’t have to.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

What’s step 1 of direct contracting? @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

What’s the TPA’s role in direct contracting? @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

What’s the repricer’s role in direct contracting? @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

“I think the thing that makes all this work is having a benefits advisor that knows how to do all this.” @KatyTalento discusses #directcontracting on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #hospitals #digitalhealth

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